Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Let's Privatize!

The problem with public schools, I've been reading for years, is that there's no accountability. If the school fails, it just goes on forever failing. That's simply not acceptable, say the privatizers. In the real world, when a business fails, it closes. So why shouldn't the same apply to public schools? Of course, that was before the US Government got into the business of massive bailouts, so that AIG execs wouldn't miss out on their bonuses this year.

In any case, in came Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and he began closing public schools right and left. If your school is failing, it closes. That's the way of the real world (or the way it used to be, perhaps). We'll reopen with five new academies, and they'll have all new kids, fewer ESL and special ed. kids, and we'll compare the one that does best with the big school we just closed. Does that make a good 30-second soundbyte or what? Keep it going, New York. Where did the kids who went to the big school end up? Who knows? Who cares?

So if schools fail, they have to be closed. That's the law. Unless they're private religious schools, which must be saved. After all, everyone knows they're much better than neighborhood schools, which are completely worthless. After all, who judges a neighborhood by its schools? It's much better to close them forever than fix them. Anyway, religious schools have much better teachers, who control the kids much more effectively.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that their population has 100% proactive parents, willing to pay for their kids' private education, and nothing whatsoever to do with the lack of restriction they have with discipline, up to and including expulsion. Certainly religious school teachers could walk into public schools and control the most difficult problem children without breaking a sweat.

So Mayor Bloomberg not only wants to turn a bunch of religious schools into charters, he wants to guarantee currently enrolled kids slots in them. This is because, of course, charter schools always select kids by a totally fair lottery (except when they don't). But that's not the only problem with these conversions. While the Catholic schools can take down the crosses and remove overt religious instruction, there are some nasty laws to consider:

For example, the law bars the conversion of any existing private schools -- including religious schools -- into charters. While Bloomberg said that all students now enrolled in the Catholic schools would be guaranteed admission to the new charters, the law mandates that all admission to charters be by lottery -- meaning no one can be assured of a slot. The law calls for 70 percent of all teachers at charters to be certified -- a requirement many Catholic schools do not meet.

So let's see--you can't legally turn religious schools into charters, you can't enroll anyone you feel like in a charter, and you can't actually hire just anyone to teach children. But that won't stop Mayor Mike. After all, NYC voters twice insisted on term limits, and Mayor Mike told the voters in no uncertain terms where they could stick it. If he doesn't have to follow the twice-told will of the people, why should any stinking law apply to him?

And the best part is this--if he fails, he can say, you see? I was fighting for the rights of the common folk to go to private school for free. So what if I closed a bunch of neighborhood schools instead of fixing them? You don't think all kids are gonna get the small class sizes Green Dot schools get, do you? How on earth would I be able to keep closing them if I squandered potential stadium funds on things like reasonable class sizes, decent facilities, or buildings instead of trailers?

How on earth are people like Eva Moskowitz gonna profit if I keep public schools public? Who needs neighborhood schools when you could take a crap shoot at getting your kid in a charter where teachers aren't unionized, work 200 hours a week, and have no job security? Then, one day your kids will get a crap shoot at jobs that aren't unionized, work 200 hours a week and have no security.

It all fits perfectly.
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